Best Time to Visit Amsterdam
The Dutch capital is fascinating and full of energy all year long, but if you are set on sightseeing as much as possible, spring and early fall are the best times to visit Amsterdam. The weather is mild, you're more likely to see sun than rain, and the crowds are down to manageable sizes. This is the best time to score deals outside of winter, and even if you have to wait in line to enter or board your favorite attraction, at least the weather outside is likely to be nice.
Whether you're in Amsterdam for the indoor attractions or the outdoor beauty, there's a perfect time for you to visit.
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Best Season to Visit Amsterdam
When it comes to visiting Amsterdam, high season isn't necessarily the best time to go – aside from higher prices, you'll also have to deal with huge crowds and humid weather. Shoulder season (spring and fall) is more pleasant, more affordable, and easier to maneuver. Or you can always visit in winter to get the best deals and some charming holiday lights.
Spring: If you're coming to the Netherlands for tulips, this is the right season. April is the month for tulips, although flowering season runs from mid-March to early May. Spring is also sunnier and typically dry, with temperatures around 10 to 12 degrees Celsius during the day. It's great weather to walk around and for days trips outside Amsterdam, including a visit to the Keukenhof Gardens, where over seven million flowers bloom in spring.
Spring nights can be chilly, so bring a scarf and layers if you're visiting in March or April. King's Day on April 27th (as well as the weekend immediately before or after) is a major street celebration in Amsterdam –expect large crowds, expensive accommodations, and lots of noise if you visit around that time.
Summer: Summer has nice weather but is a very busy season in Amsterdam. If you're heading to popular attractions such as Anna Frank's house, you'll find long lines and waiting times. With canal cruises in full swing, even enjoying the water will be harder, and parks will be full of locals picnicking and enjoying the sun.
The summer months are great for bicycle rides, if that's something you want to try – especially if you're heading to the countryside and dreaming of idyllic rides with windmills in the background. A busy city means higher prices, so book your hotel early if you're looking for deals.
Summer weather is hot and often humid in Amsterdam. It's hard to predict what each month will feel like, but you can expect temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius in June and as high as 30 degrees Celsius in July, the hottest month. August is also hot but can be rainy and grey.
Fall: If you're planning on spending lots of time sightseeing, Fall is the best time to visit. Crowds thin out, prices start to go down, and the cities become more manageable.
The later you arrive in the season, the better all these conditions will be – though by early November, the weather will be cold and wet. Temperatures in November are usually in the single digits, and you'll see lots of drizzle and the occasional snow flurries.
September and October are better weather-wise, though temperatures can be unpredictable: some years you'll experience sunnier days and temperatures in the mid-teens, while other years, the temperature stays around 10 degrees Celsius with lots of grey, rainy days. The earlier you arrive in the season, the longer and warmer the days will be, but a light jacket is always a must – evenings can be windy and chilly even in September.
Winter: Amsterdam winters are windy and cold, but the temperatures rarely dip below freezing. With average winter temperatures around 3 to 4 degrees Celsius, the city will feel much warmer than other destinations in Northern Europe, and spending time outdoors will not be too bad as long as you have the proper jacket, waterproof boots, and perhaps a scarf to bundle up.
January is the coldest and windiest month, with short, grey days where the sun sets at around 4:30pm. Although snow is rare in the Netherlands, if it's going to happen, it's likely to happen in January. Don't let that scare you off, through – the canal boats are beautiful when covered in a thin blanket of snow.
Visiting in winter does have its benefits, especially if you arrive during the Christmas Markets season. Amsterdam is home to many seasonal markets, from trendy, chic locations selling design products to Victorian-style markets where you'll find traditional crafts and sweets, like the spiced pepernoten biscuits.
Best Months to Visit Amsterdam
The best months to visit Amsterdam are considered shoulder season. While summer is high season in Amsterdam, traveling between June and August will get you very high prices, thick crowds, and no chance for a relaxing holiday. For a better trip, skip the busy, expensive months and opt for milder weather and cheaper prices.
April: It just doesn't get any better than April when it comes to visiting Amsterdam. The tulips are in full bloom, the days are long (14 hours of daylight), and you won't see much rain. This is the perfect time to explore the countryside, too.
A day trip from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans takes less than half an hour and gets you into the heart of "windmill country," which in April is also one of the best destinations to see tulips. With temperatures averaging 17 degrees Celsius this month, you can always rent a bike and explore the countryside that way, too.
While the main festival this month is the Tulip Festival, there's also a Cherry Blossom Festival, complete with Japanese food, at the Amsterdamse Bos, a landscaped English forest in the heart of the city.
September: September's weather can be unpredictable – it could be dry; it could be rainy. It rains an average of 10 days in September, but when it does, it's usually in the form of light rain, so it's not necessarily a dealbreaker for those looking to walk around the city and sightsee. Although it can get as warm as 18 degrees Celsius in September, temperatures are more likely to stay in the mid-teens, with cooler but comfortable nights.
The summer crowds have gone home by the time September comes around, so you'll have more space to breathe, plus you'll see lower prices. If you're in town on the second weekend of September, take advantage of Open Monuments Day, a chance to get access to monuments and historical buildings usually closed to the public.
December: If you're looking for affordable flights and accommodations, you'll find both in winter. The second half of December is more expensive, as visitors make their way to the city for some holiday fun – but if you plan well in advance and skip the days around Christmastime, you'll still get plenty of holiday cheer without the sticker price shock.
December is the milder of the winter months weather-wise, with daytime temperatures around 4 to 5 degrees Celsius. A thick winter coat is a must, but you can leave the weatherproof boots at home – December is a dry month and not a very windy one, making it comfortable for outdoor walks under the holiday lights.
Cheapest Time to Visit Amsterdam
The cheapest time to visit Amsterdam is definitely winter, except for the weeks around the Christmas holidays. Prices start to go down in November and stay low until late February. By March, things start to get a little pricier again, but you still have a couple of weeks of affordable options in March before shoulder season kicks in.
This is the best time to find deals on hotels and flights, but also the best time to enjoy indoor activities – such as a visit to Anne Frank's House or the Van Gogh museum – as the lines will be shorter and the attractions themselves not so crowded.
Although it doesn't happen every year, the canals can (and sometimes do) freeze in winter, which provides a gigantic ice-skating surface for a completely new and different way to experience the city. November is mild enough to spend plenty of time outdoors – and many cafés and restaurants cater to that by providing outdoor heating lamps and tables.
If winter feels too dreary for a visit, your other option is the short shoulder season, which covers the months of March and September. Prices are still low in these months, and the bigger crowds haven't arrived yet (or have already left after summer). The weather is mild, with cool but not too chilly evenings. The days are long enough, and you'll see plenty of sunshine, making these months perfect for outdoor activities and day trips outside Amsterdam.
Best Time to Visit to See Tulips
Tulips are an integral part of the Netherlands – during blooming time, they are everywhere; when they are not blooming, the country is always preparing for them to come back.
Tulips are at their peak in April, but you can see them literally everywhere between late March and mid to late May. In Amsterdam, the best place to see tulips is the Keukenhof Gardens, which are only open between March 21 and May 10, at the top of tulip blooming season. The largest flower garden in the world, Keukenhof is just 30 minutes away from Amsterdam and easily accessible by public transport.
If you're coming at other times of the year, you can still experience the beauty of tulips through a number of festivals. The third Saturday in January is National Tulip Day, celebrated in Amsterdam's Dam Square through the creation of a pop-up garden displaying over 200,000 tulips in all colors. Even better, this is a "pick your own" garden – arrive early, and you can grab your own tulips to take home, free of charge.
Best Time to Visit Museums in Amsterdam
Some museums, including the Anne Frank House, are so busy year-round that you are now required to obtain a ticket in advance online. If you don't do that and just show up, you'll have to wait in line and hope you'll make it inside – in summer, this isn't always guaranteed, as the lines are so long, you could easily wait three to four hours to get to the ticket window.
If this is the plan, your chances are better during the colder months, when there aren't as many tourists – but keep in mind this will mean standing outside in cold, often wet, weather.
Other museums, such as the Van Gogh Museum, the art and antiquities Rijksmuseum, and the Rembrandt House, are slightly less difficult to get in – but during high season, you'll still have to battle crowds once you're inside.
Museums make for great fall and winter activities. Tickets are easy to get, you'll get a chance to escape the cold by heading indoors, and you'll have more space to explore at your own pace once you're there.
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Exploring Beyond Amsterdam: There's much more to the country than its vibrant capital. Whether you're in the planning stages of your trip or looking for some inspiration, take a look at our favorite tourist attractions in the Netherlands for ideas of places to visit.
Discovering Other Cities: If you want to explore other cities after your trip to Amsterdam, give the country's second-largest city a try – it offers old harbors and maritime museums, fine examples of modern architecture, historic windmills, and much more, as you'll see in our article, Top Tourist Attractions in Rotterdam & Easy Day Trips.
Eindhoven, in the south of the country, is home to unique museums and stunning Neo-Gothic architecture – take a look at our article on the Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Eindhoven for more ideas on what to see when visiting.